Are there Mahayana Buddhists in Thailand?
Thailand's temple of hell: Buddhism to be feared
Go to hell - to Thailand! Visit 60 Buddhist temples of hell, each more brutal than the next.
Buddhism is a no-brainer, isn't it? But do you already know them buddhist hell?
Buddhists believe you are with bad karma land in hell. There you come before a court.
The hellish punishments you can see in detail in Buddhist hell temples.
These cruel temples are especially for small children Instruction and deterrence.
There are temples of hell in every Buddhist country. By far most of them are in Thailand.
So if someone says "go to hell" then go to Thailand. You deserve it ;)
Danger, in the post there are blatant pictures. Some motifs are not for the faint of heart.
Hell temple as an unknown Thailand insider tip
There are more than 60 great temples of hell in Thailand. Hundreds of other temples have small hell gardens and hellish wall paintings.
Hell temples are really no secret. The next one is never far, especially in populous Isaan, in the north and in central Thailand.
Hell temples are literally overcrowded on Buddhist holidays. Families get away with this with their offspring. I've seen more than one child crying.
All the more surprising that the interesting temples are almost unknown to tourists. Perhaps the cruel tortures just don't fit our image of peaceful Buddhism.
So yes, hell temples are an insider tip in Thailand. Make sure to check them out! The more blatant temples of hell are real works of art.
What is the Buddhist hell Niraya / Naraka?
Imagine Dante's Inferno or Hieronymus Bosch's painting of Hell. Niraya is something like that (Sanskrit: Naraka).
Almost every hell temple in Thailand has these motifs:
- Sin soup: Sinners are cooked in a soup by the hell guards
- Thorn tree: Sinners flee from wolves and birds of prey on a tree with sharp spines
- Animal executioner: Executioners with animal heads eviscerate sinners, cut off their arms or tongues
- Hungry ghosts: Sinners with incredible hunger and super long limbs
- Hell judgment: A judge sentences newcomers to their just punishment
These are the classics, but there are many other, sometimes unusual, representations. The torture should match the sin as much as possible and there seem to be no limits to the imagination.
Perhaps to reassure children afterwards, there are more and more hell temples with dinosaurs. This is a common trend in Thai temples in the country.
Chiang Mai Hell Temple: Wat Mae Kaet Noi
Wat Mae Kaet Noi is only a half hour drive north of Chiang Mai and is very easy to find.
It is the cruellest and most brutal temple in hell that I know. I would rather not meet the monk who devised this hell park in the dark.
All the classics are there. The legs of larger than life hungry ghosts are the entrances. Special features are in addition to the extra red color for particularly bloody scenes:
- Demons on a motorcycle, like on a meat loaf cover
- A firing squad, with historically correct details
- Crass and realistic torture machines, right up to the bicycle chain
- A school class that is being slaughtered by demons
- A weird group sex scene where I don't know what the punishment is supposed to be
If you ask me this is one of the most worth visiting temples in Chiang Mai. The temple can be easily connected to the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfall.
Bangkok Temple of Hell in the Pampas: Wat Phut Udom
Around the capital you will find two of the largest hell temples in Thailand in addition to a few smaller ones. They are very different from each other.
Wat Phut Udom in the pampas north of Bangkok competes with every ghost train. It starts out harmless on the outside with beastmen, demons, skeletons and hungry ghosts.
Under the temple is an extra tour with the really blatant things. In addition to the classics, you will see beings that are half human, half skeleton and a large hell laboratory.
Animatronic make Phut Udom unique. If you throw in 5 baht, the dioramas move. Eyes are picked out, saws cut people in pieces and hungry ghosts moan in pain.
Bangkok Hell Temple on the beach: Wat Saen Suk
Much easier to get to is Wat Saen Suk on Bangkok's closest beach. The temple is only a 10-minute walk from Bang Saen Beach and is therefore quite famous.
On the huge area you will find all hell temple classics, but also peaceful motifs. There is also a separate corner for Thai mythology and even one for Hinduism and Chinese myths.
Phut Udom and Mae Kaet Noi are more spectacular. There is a lot more that can be done on Bang Saen Beach and in the surrounding area. Saen Suk is halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya.
Both big Bangkok hell temples are of course also in the Insider Guide: 555 tips for Bangkok
Chiang Rai's White Hell Temple: Wat Rong Khun
The most famous hell temple in Thailand is the White Temple in Chiang Rai. Wat Rong Khun is on every bucket list because of its gleaming white facade.
To be honest, I have no idea whether this is really a temple of hell. The classic representations such as human soup and prickly tree are missing.
Instead, the “bleeding” heads of superheroes are hanging from a tree. A Predator comes out of the ground and makes the classic demons look old.
Hundreds of hands come out of the ground at the entrance and grab you. Wat Rong Khun is an unusual hell temple, but definitely worth a visit.
Celebrity Hell Temple: Haw Par Villa in Singapore
The most famous hell temple in the world is not in Thailand, but in Singapore. The Haw Par Villa even has its own MRT stop.
The Hell Temple is only a small part of a kind of Buddhist Disneyland. An inventor of the Tiger Balm ointment, which is popular in Asia, has come to fruition here.
The “10 Courtyards of Hell” on the site are a bit out of the way in a dark corridor. The brutal scenes seem all the more atmospheric.
The Haw Par Villa is showing its age and is nowhere near as popular as it was in the 1950s. If you're in Singapore, stop by anyway.
Hell temples in Japan, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, ...
Hell niraya first appeared in the ancient Devaduta Sutta, before the Buddhist diaspora. That is why you can find temples of hell in various Buddhist countries today.
The Wewurukannala Hell Temple in Sri Lanka and the Win Sein Hell Temple in Myanmar are similar to the Hell temples in Thailand. Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand belong to Theravada Buddhism.
In the Chinese temples of hell, the court ruling is probably very important. You see a lot more dishes in Mahayana Buddhism, whether Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Korea or Japan.
Hell temples are not only international, but also an old idea. Already in Angkor Wat in Cambodia you will find representations of the Buddhist hell.
Rules in Buddhism and bad karma
In Buddhism there are 5 commandments for normal mortals, the five silas:
- Not dead
- Don't steal
- No wrong sex
- Do not lie
- No drugs
For monks and nuns, “no wrong sex” becomes “no sex” and there are many more commandments.
If you don't obey the commandments, you will accumulate bad karma.
With enough bad karma, you will be reborn and punished in hell.
Often the punishment in hell has at least a distant connection to the act itself.
Reincarnation: rebirth in Buddhism
To us, reincarnation in Buddhism sounds desirable. But the goal of Buddhists is to end eternal rebirth with attaining nibbana. (Sanskrit: Nirvana)
Before that, you are stuck in the samsara cycle of life. Depending on your karma you are born as a human, a worm or even a god. The first noble truth applies even to gods: Life is unsatisfactory
Most unsatisfactory is life as a hell being. This applies to the tortured as well as to the torturer. Imagine you are reborn as a torturer in hell and really mess up your karma.
Life in hell, like all life, is limited in time. When your bad karma is atoned for, you will be reborn in another world and may try again.
Hell as a place is just an interpretation of the lyrics. Many Buddhists believe that hell is a state, not a place. Maybe hell is empty and all sinners are here ...
Map: 60 temples of hell in Thailand +11 in Asia
During my research I found 60 larger temples of hell in Thailand. The emphasis is on larger ones. If there is only a thorn tree or a hungry ghost standing around, that is not yet a temple of hell.
11 international temples of hell in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan are also on the map.
The list for Thailand should be relatively complete. There are certainly many more around the world. Do you still know a temple of hell that is missing?
Lists for hell temples in Thailand:
One Weird Globe has some nice reports on Hell Temples in Thailand.
And when are you going to hell? ;)
The travel camera for my photos is a Canon professional compact *
* Affiliate advertising link: If my information helps you, please use it to buy - nothing extra!
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